Thursday 29 September 2016

Clare Reviews: The Rumour by Elin Hilderbrand

The RumourTitle: The Rumour
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Source: Finished copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Publisher: Hodder
Pages: 384
Rating: 4.5/5
Blurb: Nantucket writer Madeline King has a new novel coming out,The Rumor, and it's got bestseller potential. But Madeline is terrified, because in her desperation to revive her career, she's done the unthinkable: The Rumor reveals the truth behind an actual affair involving her best friend, Grace. 
And that's not the only strain on Madeline and Grace's friendship; one fateful night, the two women argue, voicing jealousies and resentments that have built for twenty years. Bereft of each other, they get caught in the snares of a mysterious and destructive stranger. Their fate hinges on The Rumor -- and the secret it reveals.

I wasn't sure what to expect going in to this book. The blurb promised secrets and friendship and a "mysterious and destructive stranger" but I wasn't prepared for how compulsively readable it would be.

In reality this is not an eventful book. With one very notable exception The Rumour follows normal people living (relatively) normal lives. And yet I was never bored. The characters were all sympathetic or frustrating at times and they all had likable and distinctly unlikable character traits. In short, they felt like real people. And so, much like the anonymous gossiping "we" of the story - you find yourself fascinated, both by the rumour and by the truth. At times this made me feel a bit uncomfortable - like I was somehow taking part in the gossip but it was certainly a unique perspective and ultimately worked incredibly well.

As I mentioned, there was one exception to the "normal" rule and it's a pretty big one. I definitely want to avoid spoilers but I will say that I really liked the way it was handled. It felt almost objective so that I, as a reader, wasn't sure whether to sympathise or to condemn and ultimately found myself taking a more objective stance. Not all the events in the novel played out the way I wanted or expected them to but by the time I had finished the last sentence I knew that everything felt right.

Since The Rumour follows a number of different characters, I inevitably found myself more drawn to some than others. Hope and Allegra were, perhaps, the least likable of the characters. Hope had a tendency to paint herself as the victim and her actions regarding her sister and Brick were not ones that I necessarily approved of. Meanwhile Allegra was actively selfish and even at times cruel for the first half of the book. However both girls grew as the story progressed and the Hope and Allegra of the ending of the book were very likable. Grace and Madeline meanwhile, I found likable from the start and only began to discover their flaws as the novel progressed. Both act in some, obviously reprehensible ways, but as the reader I found myself sympathising with both of them.

If I have one criticism it relates to the "mysterious stranger" of the blurb. I can't for the life of me, figure out who this was meant to be and it feels like it doesn't even apply to this book. It led me to belief there would be some kind of thriller-esque angle which definitely didn't apply. 

Overall I really enjoyed the cosiness of The Rumour. It's a genre I've never really tried before but definitely one I am interested in returning to. It felt like, a slow and easy book and yet I read it in one sitting - that's how fascinated I was by these characters. I definitely recommend this for anyone facing a reading slump (as I was when I started this) or anyone looking for a character driven read. 

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